Saturday, 29 December 2012

a grand day in the lakes (but don't mention the tea bags)

YC ventured over to the Lake District with some folk from Northumberland Fell Runners for a day in the hills.  The long-range forecast of sunshine had proved to be as reliable as Newcastle United's recent form, with the reality being heavy rain and wind.  We parked at Mardale Head at Haweswater, having negotiated lanes flooded by the overnight rain.

Our leader was John Telfer who took us on a 16 mile route over Harter Fell and Shipman Knotts to Kentmere, then back via the Ill Bell ridge to High Street.  There was a terrific hail storm on top of Froswick that tested the mettle of even the hardiest fellrunners.  But spurred on by Steph Scott (illustrious winner of the Howtown Fell Race no less), we pressed on and descended via Riggindale.  Here we eventually popped out of the cloud and could enjoy the view down Haweswater.

We finished as we had started - in the pouring rain at Mardale Head.  This necessitated a quick change into dry clothes (outdoor designer gear for some of the party, Ron Hills for YC), and then tea and scones at the Haweswater Hotel where the following conversation ensued:
JT - ah tea, perfect for slaking the raging fellrunner's thirst.
YC - before possibly something stronger?
Victor Meldrew (aka Paul H) - never mind that, there's only 2 tea bags in this pot of tea!  Call this a proper brew?  I've had stronger brews out of lakeland streams!

All of which the assembled company found highly amusing.

Steph suggests to JT how many tea bags make a good brew
NFR in Kentmere - Paul H, Dexter, JT, Paul A (obscured), Steph, David


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Ana Elena in Tynemouth

Ana Elena Kelly is visiting Tynemouth for Christmas and staying with Emma.  She is Ruth & Phil Kelly's elder daughter and is studying at Toulouse university.  It's a long way home to Mexico for Christmas, so Tynemouth is the "must-see" holiday destination instead.  The weather isn't quite living up to the holiday billing yet - south easterly gales and pouring rain has been the norm for the past couple of days - but you can't have everything.  Keen family historians will no doubt have worked out that Phil Kelly was Pat Duff (nee Walker)'s first cousin, so Ana Elena is YC's second cousin.

Over dinner at the Percy Gardens HQ, there was a chance to catch up on family news with Mr & Mrs Rev T.   There was even time for some early Christmas present opening (as the aged P's are off to Wonersh for Christmas).  So on that note, it's probably now permissible for YC to wish all readers a very "Happy Christmas".
Dinner at the Percy Gardens HQ
opening early Christmas presents with Emma

YC warmed up for the fesitive period with the Simonside Cairns race.  John Telfer couldn't make it due to "man flu" - possibly brought on by the prospect of supporting QPR over the festive period.  Photo by John Allen.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Birtley News resume

For readers who haven't been dipping into Birtley News on a regular basis (surely not?), here is a resume of what you have been missing:

And there's lots more besides.  Happy Advent!

The Tynemouth Duffs with Matthew at Il Fornos

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent Sunday

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion - "Your God reigns!"
Isaiah chapter 52 verse 1

YC has received a couple of Christmas cards (for which he is grateful) and is off to a work Christmas night out on Friday.  But before he rushes headlong into Christmas, he would like to remind readers that...IT'S ONLY ADVENT.  Indeed, today is Advent Sunday.

Advent is the season when we get ready for Jesus's birth at Christmas, and look forward to his second arrival on judgement day.  It has 4 traditional themes - death, judgement, heaven and hell.

In case readers think that YC might be a tad "holier than thou", he'd like to point out:
  • He will be going to the work Christmas night out
  • He might just force a glass of the necessary between his parched lips
  • If he chances upon a public house selling fine real ale, then he will enjoy a preview of the third advent theme.
  • If the pub only sells keg beer, then the fourth advent theme will be only too real.
Happy Advent!

bitterns and crosswords

YC took advantage of a beautiful, if cold, day with a jog on the beach at Cresswell followed by a stroll to Chevington while mulling over tricky clues in The Times crossword.  There were reed buntings and goldfinches aplenty, and a short eared owl hunting in the fields by Druridge Ponds.   But the most excitement was at Cresswell Pond where a bittern was poking its nose out of the reeds to capture the afternoon sunlight.

After warming up from the chill of the hide with some:

Refreshment taken during the day regularly (3 letters)

YC might just find time for a:

Right after worker gets stronger refreshment (4 letters)

Readers correctly solving the clues might just qualify for the second one.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tour of Pendle 2012

The Tour of Pendle - 17 miles and 4,500 ft of climbing up and around Pendle Hill in Lancashire.  YC was back for his 4th race yesterday, in company with Paul Hainsworth and Jane Saul.  Paul was running, Jane was our official support and team photographer.  The overnight rain and clag mostly cleared, leaving a cool but clear day with clouds occasionally brushing the tops.   There was mud and peat galore, making for a very exciting descent of "Geronimo Hill" midrace.  There was a huge field of 350+ runners, no doubt attracted by the smart T shirt included in the £7 entry fee.

The Tour is a race of 2 halves.  Fast running over the first half, then 3 big climbs on the second half culminating in the slog up Big End.  YC finished in reasonable order in 3 hours 7 mins.  Paul was just over 10 mins behind.  Jane witnessed the fun and games on the descent of Geronimo to checkpoint 4, then strolled up Pendle Hill to watch us on the return leg.  Over a debriefing cup of tea and bowl of soup in the village hall, the consensus was that this had been a grand day out.  And what's more, the raging fellrunner's thirst was not wholly slaked by the tea...
pre race prep
the lead runners descend Geronimo Hill

YC running so fast that the camera can't keep up (possibly)
Paul on the final run-in

Sunday, 4 November 2012

OMM 2012

YC ran the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) with Paul Hainsworth last weekend.  We were in the A class - 40 miles of yomping/navigation from one checkpoint to the next over 2 days.  The event was held in the Howgills at Sedbergh.  Saturday was cold but beautifully sunny.  Sunday was cold and (not so beautifully) wet.  But we managed to complete the course - an anchievement in itself when over the half the field on our course dropped out.  Hills climbed included The Calf, Green Bell, and Wild Boar Fell.  The overnight camp was chilly, but Paul had brought a secret ingredient to fend off the cold: a couple of miniatures of Highland Park whisky.  And very effective it was too.

There is more detailed report on the NFR website (here).

Saturday's start
Paul heading for the Howgills
steep climbing in the Howgills
wet but cheery at the finish

Friday, 26 October 2012

Turbot or Halibut?

Alistair & Margaret Miller (YC's Canadian uncle & aunt) have been visiting Tynemouth and staying in four star luxury (possibly) at number 10.  The weather was rather cold and grey, but they found time for a bracing walk along the pier and a stroll to North Shields fish quay.  On Thursday night, we repaired to The Grand Hotel with Andrew & Diane for a very enjoyable dinner.  Fish was on the menu, and the following conversation ensued:
Diane - is this turbot?
Andrew - no it's halibut.
Diane - oh, I thought it was Thursday.
Andrew - so am I, let's have a drink.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Autumn Watch

YC took advantage of a beautiful mild autumn day and headed up to Cresswell on the Northumberland Coast.  After a run on the beach and quick dip in the sea (sans wet suit - chilly), he checked out the hide at Cresswell Pond.  A jack snipe was bobbing in the reeds in front of the hide, while lots of lapwings and common snipe sat on the mudbank.  Offshore a large pod of dolphins was feeding, giving tremendous views as they leaped out of the sea.

Meanwhile in Haddington (home to the Telfer family), the rodents have been making their presence felt.  JT returned from a weekend in the Lakes to be greeted with his prize for propping up the Man(or) Mouse competition.  Eek!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Man or Mouse?

Last weekend was a double fell race epic.  First off was Manor Water - 10 miles near Peebles - which YC scampered round in just over 90 mins.  This was followed by the Pentland Skyline near Edinburgh on Sunday - a longer affair of 16 miles, 16 (sic) hills, and just over 3 hours 30 mins of running.

NFR was represented at both (see left for the Manor Water start courtesy of Dougie Nisbet).  For those running both races, there was the added attraction of the Man(or) Mouse series.  YC didn't trouble the leaders for the Man prize (lowest combined total time).  However John Telfer (standing next to YC) achieved celebrity mouse status - "winning" the competition comfortably to claim proudly the Mouse title (for the highest combined time).  Before readers chuckle too much at this, bear in mind that JT ran 26 miles for the honour and only 21 runners managed both races.  JT also collected a bottle of beer for this efforts - so he wasn't complaining too much.

There's a more detailed report on the NFR website.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Never So Good

"Never So Good" by Howard Brenton is a play based on the life of Harold Macmillan who when Prime Minister famously said "They've never had it so good".  YC saw it last night at The People's Theatre, and very good it was too.  It ranged from Macmillan's time as an officer in the First World War, through his days as a minister in Churchill's government, and up to his tenure at No 10 Downing Street.  It was an amusing and interesting history lesson.  Hands up which reader (without consulting google) can name the British Prime Minister and American President at the time of the Suez Crisis?

YC took in some different culture on Wednesday - a popular music concert by Deacon Blue at The City Hall.  YC doesn't usually indulge in pop concerts.  But his social secretary (Katrina Pescott) was on the case and he duly went along.  And very good it was too.  With hits including Fergus Sings the Blues, Twist and Shout, and Dignity, Deacon Blue provided 2 hours of superb entertainment.  Readers won't be surprised to learn that whilst Katrina sang along with gusto to all the songs, YC sat quietly in his seat and didn't join in at all (possibly).

All of this followed on from a week sailing on the fine craft Stella Genesta with Mr & Mrs Rev T.  The autumnal weather was beautiful.  All the rain fell at night, and by day the skies were often blue with light winds.  This allowed time for the fine craft to sail to Beccles, explore the Chet, and tack up The Yare.  And of course, the crew found time to slake the raging maritime thirst.

 "A woman's work is never done."
As seen at Loddon Staithe - Mrs Rev T reaches for the mop whilst Rev T looks quietly on.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rowena & Michael

Congratulations to Rowena Mistry and Michael Duff who are engaged to be married.  The happy event took place on a family holiday in Italy.  Michael reports that Rowena was there for the sun, while he was there for the vino (see below for conclusive proof).  Concerned readers might be wondering why Michael is drinking white wine and not beer.  Perhaps it's the London influence wearing off on Michael.  However YC ran reassure readers that Michael is still supporting Newcastle United rather than Chelsea or (horror upon horrors) Sunderland.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Aunty Dulcie and The Red Arrows

Colin & Mary Kendall recently visited Tynemouth with Colin's mother Dulcie.   For the family historians, Dulcie was married to Cyril Kendall, Granny Walker's only brother, who died during the war in Burma in 1942.  She then re-married Geoffrey Kup (d 1981).  Dulcie, 95, is the last from her generation.  She enjoys a red wine at lunchtime and a whisky each evening (though not before 6 pm!) - a lady after YC's own heart.  Their visit coincided with the Great North Run when the Red Arrows were on display.

Diane, Andrew, Dulcie, Pat, Colin, Timothy, Mary enjoy lunch at Percy Gardens, while the Red Arrows do their stuff overhead.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Two Breweries Race

Executive summary - beautiful day, enjoyable fell race, A to B race in the Scottish Borders near Peebles.  18 miles and 5,000 ft of climbing.  3 hours 45 mins.  Free beer at the end.  Hurrah!

For more detail from Old Cheviot, click here .

Sunday, 16 September 2012

wedding celebrations

Congratulations to James Wilson and Caroline Jones who were married on Saturday at Gorton Monastery (Manchester). YC was there to witness the event, as were fellow Green Wyverns Emma Duff and Graham Ashton. It was a splendid day, aided by some rare Manchester sunshine and the 5 piece Carlton Ensemble - the bride walked out to Orpheus in the Underworld (which readers will know as the Can Can). In the evening a live band cranked out Motown numbers, which allowed Graham to take the dance floor by storm.

On the Friday night, Graham led the way on a brief tour of the Manchester hotspots. First off was The Castle pub in the northern quarter - a traditional boozer selling Elbow beer (named after the north west popular music group of which needless to say YC had not heard). Afterwards a trip to Chorlton revealed the wonderfully named "The Famous Trevor Arms" and The Beech Inn - which sold some excellent Timothy Taylors Golden Best at 3.5% ABV.

James & Caroline sign the register
right - the wedding party and guests

James & Emma in the monastery

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Grace and Skye visit

YC's cousin Grace Chillingworth is visiting with her daughter Skye. They called into the Percy Gardens HQ for a very enjoyable lunch. Nell Gair also popped by, taking a break from a hectic summer of honeymooning and Olympic watching. Summer has finally arrived in Tynemouth, so a trip to the beach was in order this morning. Skye was very taken with her bucket and spade - and continued to play with it over lunch.

left - Emma asks Skye if she knows the one eyed dinosaur joke.
right - all smiles when the "d'you'thinkhesuarus" punchline is revealed.

In The Swim

Well done to James Duff who rose at 4 45 am today for a dawn 5k swim at Bray Lake near Reading. He completed it in 1 hours 22 mins, reporting that it was absolutely beautiful swimming through sunrise in flat calm water. He's just had his tea...

Meanwhile YC was swimming at Tynemouth Long Sands. Without a wetsuit, it was rather chillier but the sea was fairly calm and the sun came out intermittently. YC managed 0.75 k between the old swimming pool and the Bear's Head rock.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Grisedale Horseshoe or CCC?

YC ran the Grisedale Horseshoe yesterday. This fellrace is "only" 10 miles, but it packs in 5,000 ft of climbing over Catstye Cam, Helvellyn, and St Sunday Crag. Conditions were good with just a bit of cloud on the tops and a cool breeze. There is a fantastic gully descent off St Sunday Crag, before the final sting in the tail climb back to the finish at Glenridding. YC finished 44th out of 100 plus runners in 2 hours 25 mins.

But if readers thought this sounded like a hard day in the hills, they should try the CCC in the French Alps. This 85km trail race has 4,500 metres of climbing. When snow, rain, and more rain are thrown in for good measure, it becomes a rather tough affair. This didn't bother John Telfer who breezed round in 15 hours, finishing at 1 am in Chamonix. Apparently he's just had his tea...

left - YC climbing Catstye Cam. Photo from Stu Stoddart.
right - John Telfer and family at the finish in Chamonix

Monday, 27 August 2012

news of Matthew and Marshall

Matthew has been in Tynemouth for a few days. When he wasn't showing Grandpa how to play crazy golf, he was skimming stones into the sea at The Haven and dining out at Il Forno's (pictured above). The restaurant gave us a customer feedback survey which we duly completed. But it hadn't bargained for the extra questions Matthew slipped in. Mathematical ability of restaurant owner? 4! Loveliness of owner's dog. 5!

Over the bank holiday weekend it's been on the damp side in the north-east. Saturday was a wash-out. But this meant YC didn't see a soul on a training run around the Simonside Hills. Today was also on the soggy side. This didn't bother the birds on the Northumberland Coast. YC saw greenshanks at Hauxley, and a spoonbill and sparrowhawk at Cresswell Pond.

Meanwhile spare a thought for Marshall Crawford. He is convalescing after a spell in hospital. His doctor has ordered him to take it easy and not overdo the excitement. Being the dutiful patient, Marshall is restricting himself to just one view of Birtley News per day. Admirable restraint, and YC wishes him all the best.

Monday, 20 August 2012

a weekend on Zephyr

YC has spent last weekend sailing on Zephyr with Mike Ashton. The British summer finally arrived big time, with the weather being more reminiscent of the tropics than the Norfolk Broads. But a good time was had by all, practicing tidal moorings and slaking the raging maritime thirst (which was considerable in the heat). Haunts visited included the Beauchamp, Rockland St Mary, and Reedham Ferry. YC's "ale of choice" goes to Reedham Gold - a light refreshing beer at 3.6% - perfect for those long hot summer days.

left - Mike helming near Cantley
right - Zephyr at Rockland

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Howtown Fell Race

YC ran the Howtown Fell Race today. This 14 miler is on the fells to the east of Ullswater. It takes in a circuit of Loadpot Hill, High Raise, Place Fell, and Hallin Fell. As it was a new race, the route is not established yet, and runners opted for different route choices at times. The weather was not too hot, with a cooling breeze keeping the temperature bearable. YC finished 16th out of 57 in 2 hours 40 mins. Afterwards Steph Scott (NFR chairlady) suggested a dip in Ullswater which was very refreshing. Compared to the North Sea, Ullswater was positively warm.

This evening YC has been slaking the Raging Fellrunner's Thirst, before cheering on Mo Farah to double Olympic Gold in the 5,000 metres. YC watched the race at home, but that didn't stop him jumping up and down and cheering Mo on. It was a fantastic win.

left - on Wether Hill. Photo from StuStod on the FRA Forum.
right - at the finish with Geoff, Peter & Steph

Monday, 6 August 2012

Alnwick & Avocets with Maria

Maria Kelly (Ruth & Phil's daughter) is visiting the UK from Mexico. Maria is a keen student of Harry Potter, so a trip to Alnwick Castle was just the ticket today. The tour guide helpfully pointed out where the scenes at Hogwarts (broomsticks, whomping willow etc) were all shot. Afterwards there was the chance for a drive down the coast and some birdwatching at Cresswell Pond. Maria's favourite bird was the avocet - the mating pair now have 3 fledglings.

We kept our eyes peeled for grizzly bears and lions - but didn't see any. You need to go to South Africa for the latter. Susan Miller has been taking some more samples for her lion research - check out the picture below. In more international news, Maria's sister Ana Elena has been to New York where she met with her cousin James Rooke (Janet & John Rooke's son).

left - with Maria at Alnwick Castle
right - Maria & Pat by the Coquet with Warkworth Castle in background

left - James & Ana Elena in New York
right - the lion sleeps tonight (allowing Susan to get her sample)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Richard Taylor RIP

Richard Taylor has died. He was vicar of Holy Saviour's Tynemouth from 1983 - 1991. Richard was academically bright, read classics and theology at Oxford University, and was ordained young at 25. A keen singer, he was a long-standing member of The Priory Singers. He served throughout his ministry as a parish priest, and was generally a good egg caring for his parishioners. At his funeral today his sons recounted a tale from his time in Benwell (tough parish in Newcastle's West End).

Richard was chatting to some workmen in the street outside the vicarage. They had lifted the manhole cover and were seemingly working on the drains. 5 minutes later, Richard was back outside, offering a tray of tea and coffee to the workmen. They gratefully accepted the drinks before getting back to work. The next day Richard received a visit from the local constabulary. The library had been burgled in the night. The workmen had been cutting the alarm wires.

The service concluded today with The Priory Singers performing In Paradisum from Faure's Requeim, which begins:

In paradisum deducant te angeli.
[May the angels lead you into paradise.]

Sunday, 22 July 2012

cruising in the leisured style of a bygone age

YC has just returned from an extended northern waters cruise on the fine craft Stella Genesta. As with all good cruise ships, she provided fine food, ale and sailing - all enjoyed in the leisured style of a bygone age. Haunts re-visited included Stalham, Wroxham, and the upper Thurne (several times). Birds seen were hobbies, marsh harriers, and 100 plus avocets on Breydon. Ales tasted were Adnams, Wherry, and Greene King IPA - all of which slaked the raging maritime thirst quite adequately. Other yachts met included Ladybird, Sabrina (Kate & Damien), Force Four, Primrose (Miles and family), and Japonica (Brendan & family).

left - sailing up The Thurne with the Hunter fleet
right - an Old Hand quants out of Stalham

left - all hands on deck as Primrose leaves Thurne Dyke
right - with Primrose and Japonica at Thurne

left - dinghy racing on Hickling Broad
right - sunset at Burgh Castle on the return to the Waveney

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Chevy Chase 2012

Every year YC says a prayer for bad weather so that he can put his local knowledge to the test. And every year, the sun duly blazes down. Today YC's prayers were answered, in fact overly so. The overnight downpour had left the course waterlogged and the streams running high. As a result the organisers had to shorten the route which took a beeline from Cheviot Knee to Langley Crags.

The bad weather course was billed as 12 miles. This led to a cavalry charge up the road at the start, more reminiscent of a 10k race. In fact the amended course was 15 miles long and was mostly run in thick mist. More than one runner went astray. Some liked Langley Crags so much that they visited it twice.

YC ran most of the race in company with Graham Walton who was running strongly. This led to conversations such as:
Graham - I'm keeping my heart-rate at only 80%.
YC (heart going 19 to the dozen) - so am I (not).

YC knew the route, and Graham was running well, so between us we managed a decent time and enjoyed the race. YC finished a couple of hundred yards behind Graham in 17th place in 2 hours 17 mins.

Due to the shortened course and early finish, there was even time to slake the raging fellrunner's thirst in The Tynemouth Lodge afterwards. John Telfer, visiting Newcastle, insisted on a trip to sample the fine ales on offer. YC thought it polite to accompany him. Greater love hath no man....

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sports Day and Olympic Top Trumps

YC was down in Wonersh visiting James & family last weekend. The great British summer faired up just enough for Matthew's sports day on the Saturday. Matthew ran the 150 metres and led off the Big Relay involving the whole school. When James played rugby at school, Rev T kept a low-key role, inconspicously dressed on the sidelines in plus fours bellowing "Come on School!". James is following in similar vein. His cries of "Come on Spades!" [Matthew's house] could be heard for miles around.

On Sunday, there was time for a walk in Blackheath woods before a game of Olympic top trumps [Usain Bolt, Daly Thompson et al] rounded off a fine weekend.

left - King of the Castle in Blackheath Woods
right - the Duff family and Scrumpy

left - keeping warm with Jacky Boyd's socks
right - a young fellrunner (on the left) in the making